Sundowns scored early through Themba Zwane only for Andrea Fileccia to ensure United went into the break, and then after Tebogo Langerman had put ‘Downs back in front, Lebo Maboe notched a sensational solo goal in the 87th minute to claim a point and keep his side’s top three hopes alive.
Masandawana took the lead with only five minutes on the clock when Zwane bundled the ball into the net from close range after Maritzburg keeper Richard Ofori had parried a Percy Tau header into his direction.
But just like in Sunday’s Nedbank Cup semi-final game, the KZN team got themselves back into the game by playing their fluent passing game. However, with Sundowns not willing to relinquish control, the intensity of the game, matched a fired-up capacity home crowd, went up several notches as the teams matched each other blow for blow.
Referee Chris Harrison was certainly kept on his toes as some meaty challenges came in, Hlompho Kekana and Mabunda in particular struggling to keep Siphesihle Ndlovu in check, while both benches were regularly off their feet as the tension mounted.
Then, after Tau had gone close to curling a 32nd minute effort into the top corner, Fileccia restored parity a minute later when he coolly rolled the ball into an empty net from a tight angle after goalkeeper Denis Onyango had missed an attempted interception on Ndlovu’s searching through ball.
After an enthralling opening to the second half, the contest balanced on a knife-edge, Zwane had a decent chance to put the Brazilians back in front on the hour mark, but miscued a half-volley from the edge of the area.
As the half wore on there was end-to-end action as the two sides went at each other full throttle. And just after Ndlovu had fired wide after a swift counter by the KZN club, Sundowns reclaimed the lead in the 75th minute when a short corner from Billiat found an unmarked Langerman, who drilled in a thunderous shot into the far corner of the net.
Tau could have wrapped up the match 10 minutes later when he went clean through on goal, but Ofori came up trumps with a superb save with is legs.
United took advantage of the opportunity that left them with and three minutes before the end of regulation time, Maboe picked up the ball near the half way line, burst past three defenders and played a one-two with Motsie Matima before squeezing the ball past Onyango and into the net.
Maritzburg: Ofori, Fransman , Sanoka, Thlone, Xulu, Shandu, Makaringe, Ndlovu, Maboe, Kunene, Fileccia
Subs: Mpandle, Mokate, Matima, Mekoa, Atouba , Van Wyk, Sithole.
Sundowns: Onyango, Langerman, Morena, Arendse, Nascimento, Mabunda, Billiat, Manyisa, Kekana, Zwane, . Tau.
Subs: Brimah, Madisha, Vilakazi, Soumahoro, Zulu, Brockie, Laffor.
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